Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Ed. note: This one is special for a couple reasons. First, Larry blew us away with his kindness, energy, and knowledge. Also, we recorded under the BART tracks, so we took pauses when trains passed by overhead. We decided to leave that audio in the final edit because, well, it was part of the experience that day. We hope you enjoy.
Larry Dorsey, Jr.'s parents came to the Bay Area from the South and South America.
In Part 1, the SF born-and-raised comedian and radio personality shares the story of his parents' migration to San Francisco. His dad played football in the NFL before his move west; Larry's mom, a lawyer, left her home country of Columbia because of political reasons.
They arrived in Oakland separately and met at SF State. Larry is their first-born, one of two sons. Larry has vague memories of his first years on Earth, which he shares with us. One is a pretty hilarious (and hilariously cute) playground-type story.
Larry tells us what it was like to go to a "hippy" elementary, and then contrasts that with his time at Aptos Junior High. But he also spent many school lunchtimes in the library. His curiosity and pursuit of knowledge was just getting started. He ended up at Lowell, during a time when he started getting into "a lot of trouble."
Larry wraps up Part 1 sharing the first time he got in trouble with a cop.
In Part 2, Larry talks about going to Lowell High School in The City and then Academy of Art University, where he first got to know people very unlike himself.
In his high school days, Larry had started to question things he was into as well as stereotypes of Black young men such as himself. He took some acting and movies courses at AAU and then went on to actual theater school. But Larry didn't wanna be an actor.
A chance ride one day turned out to be fortuitous. He got an in at The Punchline.
As he was coming up in comedy, as he puts it, he "disappeared from the world" to hone his craft. It was around this time that he also got an internship at KMEL.
Larry traces his activism to his time at City College. He worked with Black Lives Matter, various Black student unions around The City, fed houseless folks. He makes light of his activist work, but ties it back to his comedy. He shares stories of some of his first times on the comedy stage.
He lets us know about his 101-year plan. 2020 being 2020 threw things off a little, but thanks to his week-by-week plan, Larry was able to pivot. And he ends the podcast sharing his hopes for San Francisco to get its soul back through culture and youth and how he wants to focus on reparations.
Follow Larry on social media @larrydorseyjr.
We recorded this podcast at Cayuga Park under the BART tracks in April 2021.